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Bad Credit Broadband Options
Unfortunately, taking up a broadband contract isn’t as easy as signing on the proverbial dotted line and paying for the first month. Most providers will run a credit check on potential subscribers before offering you service. They want to ensure you’ll reliably pay your monthly bills for the 12, 18, or 24 months of your contract before giving you a router and an internet connection.
If you have a poor credit score, if you’ve missed payments in the past, if you’ve struggled with debt or had a CCJ (county court judgement) against you for debt, you may worry you won’t be approved for a broadband contract.
A damaged credit history doesn’t automatically make you ineligible for a broadband contract, however. Different providers will have different criteria when assessing customers and while you may be rejected by some providers, others—and often the budget providers, which offer cheaper and more manageable bills—may approve you. Some broadband providers like NOW TV aren’t even running credit checks anymore. You may also be able to put down a deposit, to assuage the concerns of a provider, and get a contract that way.
If you do secure a broadband contract, even if it’s not the speediest or best-bundled one on the market, steady payments of its bills will help improve your credit score, potentially giving you more options in providers and bundles when your contract is next up.
While a broadband contract will often save you money both in upfront costs and your monthly bill and insulate your from price increases, you can get broadband without the commitment and credit checks of a contract. More and more providers are offering competitively priced one-month, rolling deals on home broadband that can usually be secured without a credit check. Short-term or even pay-as-you-go mobile broadband deals could be another option, although mobile broadband is generally only a sensible option for people who require a portable connection and can cope with limited speeds and download allowances. But a short-term home or mobile broadband contract could be a stop-gap measure while you work on repairing your credit score, and reliable payments of your bills could convince providers you’re a safe prospect for a longer contract.
In this guide we’ll take a closer look providers that either don’t require credit checks or are known to run less stringent checks; options for securing broadband without a credit check, whether through short-term deals or lump sum payments; and how you can improve your credit score. We’ll also look at what you should do if you’re struggling to pay your monthly broadband bill and are in contract.
Getting a Broadband Contract With Poor Credit
There are a number of advantages of taking out a multi-month contract for broadband: the stability of a single connection and provider; lower setup and activation charges; a monthly bill with a price that’s generally locked in for the length of the contract term; signing bonuses and freebies ranging from routers to gift cards; and the ability to bundle your broadband with other telecom services, including TV and mobile phone for savings and convenience. If you’re planning on staying at your current place of residence, a broadband contract, with standard term lengths of 12, 18, and 24 months, is a sensible and economical choice. ADSL packages can be bought on contract for as little as £17 or £18 per month, with line rental and calls included.
But while those sums may not seem significant, over the year or two-year course of a broadband contract they add up to hundreds of pounds—and your broadband provider wants to ensure you’re good for it. That’s while they’ll run a credit check on all potential customers before signing them up to a contract.
If you do have a poor credit rating and have previously struggled with debt, don’t assume you can’t get a broadband contract, however. Different providers will have different criteria for assessing customers and a denial from one ISP doesn’t mean you won’t have success elsewhere. Budget providers like TalkTalk and Plusnet often have more lenient requirements and may be a good place to start.
Some providers will accept customers will poor credit reports on the condition that they put down a deposit upfront. If you have the lump sum, this may be an option for securing a multi-month broadband contract with bad credit.
Providers that (reportedly) don’t run credit checks
Alternatively, you could consider a provider that doesn’t run credit checks on customers for contract broadband. Be aware that policies evolve and some broadband providers that are rumoured to run credit checks or may not have in the past may still do so. If in doubt, contact the provider.
Direct Save Telecom
You may not have heard of this clunky-named broadband provider, and their website may look like it dates from the age of dial-up internet, by Direct Save Telecom offers cheap broadband on 12-month contracts without credit checks. Standard, ADSL broadband starts at £17.95 per month, an introductory offer that lasts a year, with free setup, and fibre packages start at £29.95 per month.
NOW TV reportedly doesn’t run credit checks on customers for either its rolling, 30-day or annual contract broadband. Monthly bills will be the same for the monthly and yearly deals but you’ll face an additional £59.99 setup fee for the ‘no contract’ option, while contracts come with just £9.99 of upfront costs. With no credit checks to stop you, the 12-month deals will be better value for money and guarantees you low prices—currently £18 per month for ADSL and fibre starting from £25 per month—for a year.
Some sources say that Plusnet doesn’t run credit checks on its 12- and 18-month broadband contracts, but other people report being denied by the budget provider. We’ll err on the side of saying they do, however because they are a cheaper provider, their requirements for approving subscribers may be less stringent.
Plusnet does, however, offer a standard, ADSL broadband package with average speeds of 10 Mbps for £14.99 per month with no annual contract, which generally won’t require a check credit. You’ll need to get line rental from another provider: standalone, phone-only line rental packages, from BT and Post Office, are £11.99 and £11.50, respectively, however. This line rental will erase the savings of that attractive £14.99 headline price and may require contracts—and thus credit checks. The one-month contract also comes with a £60 activation fee.
BT Basic + Broadband
Customer of BT’s social telephone tariff, BT Basic, can add limited ADSL broadband to their package for an additional £4.85 per month, with no credit check. BT Basic is only available for claimants of certain benefits and applications will be checked through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), a process that can a month. For more information, see our guide to cheap broadband options.
No Contract Broadband
Alternatively, you could investigate no contract, short-term broadband options. Most of these operate on a rolling, 30-day basis, meaning they automatically renew each month. However, there’s less risk for the broadband provider: because you pay up from for the service, they can simply terminate your connection for non-payment.
NOW TV and Virgin offer all their broadband and TV options on rolling, 30-day contracts, although you may face higher monthly fees and set-up charges. Budget-provider Plusnet and on the other end of the spectrum, high-end provider Zen both offers ADSL package on a rolling contract, although in both cases you will have to arrange for standalone line rental from another provider, such as BT, which may itself require a contract. Energy company SSE also offers 30-day, rolling broadband connections, with free setup for customers signed up to their energy tariff.
Rolling, 30-day contracts are more common for mobile broadband and you can buy tariffs of nearly every available speed and data allowance on rolling contracts from most providers. Monthly prices for no contract mobile broadband deals are comparable with contract deals although you may have to buy the equipment—such as dongle or portable hotspot—up from if you opt for the no contract option.
See our guide to short-term and no contract home and mobile broadband for more information about the perks, pitfalls, and providers of internet without an annual contract.
How to Improve Your Credit Score
Credit scores are built over years and you can’t exactly go back in time and pay that bill on time or expunge a CCJ for debt. But there are some things you can start doing immediately to repair your credit score for the future.
- Make sure you’re on the electoral registrar. Whether or not you vote doesn’t have anything to do with your credit score, but electoral rolls are public. Being registered to vote allows lenders and credit raters to verify you are who you say you are and you live where you say you do. The more information they know about you, the more confidence they have in lending you money. Registering to vote is the easiest way to see a quick boost in your credit score.
- Get your credit file and correct any mistakes in it, such as an incorrect address.
- See if your credit score is linked to another person such as a spouse or family member through a joint account. If this person has a poor credit score, it could impact you too. Close joint accounts if possible and practical.
- Pay your existing bills on time, including utilities bills and mobile phone bills and yes, your broadband bill.
- Cancel unused credit cards, debit cards, store cards, and mobile phone contracts
- If you do have debt, pay it off; if possible, pay more than the minimum payment, to signal to a prospective lender (in this case, a broadband provider) that you’re reliable and can handle repayments and are proactively managing debt.
- Take out a credit building pre-paid card. Make a few purchases on it each month and consistently pay off the balance
If You’re Having Trouble Paying Your Broadband Bill
If you’re having trouble paying for your broadband, providers urge you to contact them before you miss a payment. Once contacted, your provider can potentially work out a repayment plan for you and possibly waive any late payment fees you would otherwise face.
Late or non-payment of bills or the failure of a direct debit without notice can incur fees that range from £5 to £25 and lead to the restriction of your services. For instance, if you don’t pay your bill, your supplier can place a block on your internet connection so you are only able to navigate to their website to make a payment. Lifting these restrictions sometimes incurs an additional fee. Providers can also disconnect your broadband entirely and suspend your contract—which may incur another fee. Connections can sometimes be re-established for a fee, but you might have to take out another contract if you want to resume service and some providers will insist on a
waiting period if you’ve previously been disconnected—or not approve you at all for additional services.
Additionally, late and non-payment of your bill and contract cancellation will also negatively impact your credit score and cause you to face difficulties obtaining not just a broadband contract but also mortgages, leases, and car loans in the future.
For more information about late payment fees and contract cancellation, see our guide to avoiding extra fees on your broadband contract.